While gathering evidence for my case to prove Thomas Seymour’s innocence (where I can), I discovered there are a couple of missing depositions in State Papers. Ones that are listed as being done, but not printed. These depositions are only available at Longleat House in Wiltshire and must be accessed in person. Due to geographic separation I am unable to view these depositions.
The deposition I would like to discuss today is the one from a Mr. Edward Rouse. Rouse was the Comptroller of Thomas’ household in Bewdley, called Ticknell/Tickenhill House. Tickenhill was considered a Royal palace and it was said that Seymour acquired it when he married Kateryn Parr in 1547.
At the moment, it is uncertain as to what was actually said in Rouse’s deposition. All I have to go on is: “Orders given by Seymour for keeping his house in Bewdley, in Shropshire”.
John Harrington, a servant/officer of Sir Thomas Seymour, had previously held a post in the service of King Henry VIII. Harrington had married one of the alleged illegitimate daughters of the late King Henry, Ethelred Malte.
As a servant to Seymour, Harrington’s exact position in the household is currently unknown, however it is apparent worked closely with him.
Either before, or during Thomas Seymour’s stay in the Tower of London, John Harrington wrote a letter to the ‘Lords of the Council’ in his own hand. This letter was in regards to a conversation that he had with none other than the Comptroller of Ticknell House, Mr. Edward Rouse. In the short excerpt it states that Harrington was sent, by the Lord Admiral to accompany the Lady Jane to the house of the Marquis of Dorset. To further understand what it is all about I looked up the letter. It can be found in ‘A Collection of State Papers, relating to Affairs in the Reigns of King Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth: 1542-1570’ – Page 93: (see ‘original translation’)
According your Lordship’s commandments and ‘myn’ obedient duty. I have here written, as near as I can call to remembrance, the sum of the talk that passed between Mr. Rouse and me, as such time as my Lord send me ‘tatend’ (to attend?) on my Lady Jane to my Lord Marquess. Because he had the charge of my Lord’s household, I declared unto him my Lord’s pleasure for such of his men, as were convenient for that journey; and by reason hereof fell in to further discourse, as of the maids that remained, and to what end there abode was. I told him plainly, as I thought, they tarried in hope of my Lady Jane her return, which was the greatest cause of my going; and said further if things came to such pass as I hoped, I had some cause think it should torn the ‘thole’ (the whole?) house to great commodity; with more circumstances, but I am well assured, all to this end. Wherefore I most humbly beseech your good Lordships, for that it is very true, and also I acknowledge myself, to have been one, not so temperate of my talk, nor of so advised memory, as to be able now, to declare fully what hath passed me so long since, that it may please you to think it neither of arrogance, nor will, to conceal any matter: But if any unseemly word have escaped me, to impute it, rather to be said rashly and negligently, then willfully or maliciously; and as this sharp correction hath well learned me, so shall I hereafter not only have a more respect to that I aught, but also for the warning, during my life, remain,
Your Lordship’s most bounden,
Can I go back and talk about that letter? I ‘translated’ it from the original phonetic spelling (that’s the best way for me to describe it) and recognized, as I was reading it I could almost hear the fear in Harrington’s voice. He was terrified. He says things like, he acknowledges that he needs to show some self-restraint in some of his conversations. He makes it even more clear in the last part where he says he never meant to keep anything from them and it was not done maliciously but negligently. He had learned his lesson and would heed their warning.
So how does this all tie into Ticknell House, you ask? From this evidence, I believe that in his deposition, Edward Rouse must have discussed the conversation he had with John Harrington about Lady Jane Grey and other conversations regarding the admiral. If that is the case then it is also possible that there were bigger plans for Rouse in the future.
The story truly becomes to unfold when you look at these locations on a map. This is truly one of my favorite things to do when I am having a difficult time understanding a situation. I like to play the ‘is it possible’ game.
As you most likely already know, there were allegations of Thomas Seymour wanting to kidnap the King. This can be confirmed in other depositions and confessions which are located in State Papers in Google Books.
In these allegations they state that the plan was to kidnap and bring Edward VI to Holt Castle in Wales. Holt was a stronghold on the Wales border. Check out this amazing recreation video of what it is believed to have looked like:
Furthermore, if we look at this map, it would be an easy ‘escape’ from Sudeley to both Tickenhill and Holt. Dr. Sarah Morris of “On the Tudor Trail” was nice enough to inform me that due to the geography of the land that one could easily move from Sudeley to Tickenhill, which was THE route across the River Severn in that area.
By WHY you ask? Why would they need to escape from Sudeley? Well, if they had the King of England in tow they would need to secure him in a fortified location. Holt was the best option for Thomas Seymour for more than one reason.
Thomas had made friends with the Marquess of Dorset, Marquess of Northampton and Earl of Rutland. They were asked to help him raise men. Thomas gave the men (especially Rutland) tips on how to get men to join the fight by offering them money, food and drink. A very expensive plan. The Earl of Warwick may have participated as well but his deposition is probably at Longleat with all the Seymour papers, which can only be accessed in person.
10,000 Men Theory
Sir William Sharington, cousin to Thomas and master of the Bristol Mint alleged that Thomas told him that he would need money for 10,000 men. The part that is generally left out of Sharington’s story is that he was in trouble and needed the protection of a powerful man…like the Lord High Admiral of England. You see, Sharington had been embezzling money. He had been making coins light and keeping the extra material to make coins for himself. He later confessed to having stolen £4,000 – which we can assume is probably half or two-thirds what he actually did. This is why he was willing to make money for Thomas, in trade for his protection. He told Thomas that it was no problem and he could make enough money as long as Seymour supplied the material and gave him time to make it. It would take more than a couple of days, he claimed.
Back to Dorset, Northampton and Rutland
I assume that since those men (Dorset, Northampton & Rutland) were allies that they were to raise the 10,000 men that Thomas told Sharington he needed coin to pay. Here is a map of the area they covered. Interesting to look at with new eyes and notice that it is like a blockade.
As I continue on in my journey I will add information to this post when necessary. At the moment, if all is as it appears, it DOES seem that Thomas was building an army. What is not certain (through evidence) is for what purpose?
Rebecca Larson is a blogger and podcaster on the subject of the Tudor dynasty but has found a fascination with the life of Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane. For the last two years she has been researching and writing about Thomas Seymour in preparation for a biography on him.